Today was my birthday, and let me just say how blessed I was to be able to have shared it with my friends in Uganda! Our mornings usually start off the same way with devotions around 8:45. However, this is Africa which means we are on African time, so devotions don't actually start until 9:45. I hadn't mentioned my birthday to anyone because I am trying hard enough to try and get them to stop treating me like a privileged guest, and a birthday would have thrown a wrench into the progress I had already made. We made it all the way through devotion without one word of it and then voila! they surprise me with a cake and sing the traditional happy birthday song. It was a very nice and well accepted gesture, but still is a bit discouraging when I came here to serve them and in return they seem to always be serving me! In Uganda when it is your birthday instead of receiving gifts you usually give them out. My gift to them was lunch! It is a rare commodity to have meat here so I went all out and got beef! It felt good to have the sensation of being full again, a feeling I have only been able to accomplish a few times since I have been here. It was a great relaxing day and I appreciate all of you who called and messaged me throughout the day.
This week has been full of nothing but surprises! I woke up on Monday to Patrick asking me to go to a funeral with him. A close family friend of theirs 23 year old son was killed in a car wreck early Sunday morning. Funerals here take place the day after the passing and usually last all day. I had never met the boy who died, but reluctantly told Patrick I would attend. His reasoning for asking me to go was so I could see what a blessing it was for his 6 month old daughter to have passed away in the US and not here in Uganda. As tragic as that sounds he couldn't have been more right. The mourning process here would make anyone go back to square one. For the first time since I have been here I actually felt uncomfortable. I was the only muzungu (white person) in a crowd of about 1000 Ugandans and knew no one besides Patrick and his wife Sarah. Needless to say stares were coming in from all directions.
On a lighter note there was some humor to be added to the day. One thing they do during the funeral process is have a feast. This feast usually consist of all the traditional African favorites, rice, beans, matoke (smashed up bananas), and beef soup. The only catch is there is no silverware! It was about the equivalent of eating gumbo with your hands! Everything I was taught growing up was completely thrown out the window. Everyone kept pointing at the muzungo laughing for how long it was taking me to eat my food! I was extremely embarrassed, but thankful some joy could be found on such a somber day.
Tuesday rolled around and my chick fil a craving was starting to get the best of me. The cheapest way to eat chicken here is to do everything yourself and when I say do everything yourself I mean it. For roughly $7 I had a pet chicken for all of 10 minutes. After successfully removing the chickens head and another few hours worth of cleaning and cooking the meat my craving was satisfied! Luckily for me they don't like to eat the white meat here. They prefer to chew on the bones and other parts of chicken that if I listed would make this blog rated R. It was the most satisfying and freshest chicken I have ever eaten!
Wednesday was the best day of the week, I got to see Mercy. I had an extra mosquito net and decided to get David and Eddie to drive me out to the Mercy Home to make sure Mercy had one on her bed. As we were walking to her dormitory little Mercy came around the corner and immediately climbed onto my back. We got to where her bed was and I was happy to see she had a mosquito net but the mattress was no where to be seen! I asked her what happened to it and she quietly replied I susud (went to the bathroom). Apparently this doesn't just happen to American children and I was pleased to learn her mattress was just outside being air dried.
What a day was Thursday! I am now the proud owner of a Peugot Cadet (my new bike)! I have seen bikes everywhere here and thought it would be a good idea if I got one for transportation. After discussing this with Patrick he agreed and off we were to get me a new set of wheels. Since Uganda is a cash economy everything here is done through negotiations. Except snakes, you see a snake you kill it, no negotiations, thats the motto. Because of the color of my skin my negotiation skills get me no where here. Everywhere I go they always try and charge me double the original price. The perception is every muzungo has money and can pay double what any Ugandan can. After picking out my new ride and leaving the negotiations to Eddie and David I was able to get a bike for around $80. Unfortunately because almost all the bikes here are second hand you buy the bike, and then have to take it to the shop to get fixed. I was able to ride mine for a day before the wheel started to come off, so I decided it was time to take it and get repaired. My new ride will officially be ready tomorrow around lunchtime (which means dinner).
Overall it has been a fun week. Tomorrow is my favorite day where we get to go and feed the kids at Mercy Home. Every morning I wake up and have to pinch myself to realize I am actually in Africa serving the one who is the giver of life! Not a day has gone by where I haven't thanked God for this opportunity and for people like you who are making this possible!
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21